‘ME MYSELF I’, the new BBC documentary on Joan Armatrading, the first British female singer/songwriter to achieve international Global success, was first aired in September 2019 on BBC 4. It was such a success and with such tremendous viewing figures, that is now to be aired again on BBC 4 at 9pm, on March 5th
The film tells the story of a young black girl arriving from St Kitts to join her parents in Birmingham, her early musical trials and her determination to do things her way. It is something that the tranche of legendary producers who worked with her and who are interviewed in the film both acknowledge and admire. Glyn Johns, Steve Lillywhite, Mike Howlett - all impressed with her talent, all recognising her musicality and focus and all conceding she made them redundant. (Joan has been producing her own music since the 1980s and playing everything herself on her albums since 2003.)
Even when Joan Armatrading first started out she knew what she wanted. Despite her well documented shyness as a teenager, she was never afraid to stand up and be counted musically. It is a trait that has
served her well and one which she has embodied in her career for the last 50 years.
In the film Joan talks about her song-writing. Some of her biggest world-wide hits are featured – Me Myself I, Love and Affection, Drop The Pilot – and some lesser known songs from the early albums. These are songs which, along with old black and white footage, place Joan in history. She is shown growing up in the 60s in changing times when attitudes to black people and women were very different. The editor of Spare Rib, the iconic women’s liberation magazine that challenged the stereotyping and exploitation of women, talks about the powerful effect Joan’s music had. A female fan, emerging from a 2018 solo concert of Joan’s, speaks eloquently of the impact her music has on her.
Joan talks of handing the song over once it is finished. She is happy for people to take her material and make of it what they will and what they need to. The physical manifestation of this plays out in the film in performances of four of her songs by four very different artists. Martha Wainwright’s performance in particular of Me Myself I, following her revelation of how the song helped her after a divorce, is extremely moving.
‘Me Myself I’ was directed by Poppy Edwards and gives the viewer an insight into Joan Armatrading not seen before. If anyone was in any doubt as to the singer-songwriter’s powerful abilities, skillset and lyrical talent that is quickly dispelled here.
‘Me Myself I’ is a film that shows, in the short space of an hour, what a phenomenal artist Joan Armatrading is.
Joan Armatrading CBE completed a major sold-out UK and American tour in 2018 following a massive 235 date world tour in 2014/15. Among many other accolades she is the first female British artist to debut at
number 1 in the Billboard Blues chart, where she stayed for 12 weeks, and the first ever female UK artist to be nominated for a Grammy in the blues category. Her last CD, ‘Not Too Far Away’, her 21st studio album, charted in the UK Top 30.
A new CD, ‘Consequences’, is planned for BMG world-wide release later this year.